Division of the Book of Exodus
into fundamental literary units
according to the thought of its final writer-redactor.
Presentation of the research method sequence.

PhD dissertation: Part II (pp.66-86) of chapter I

Wojciech Kosek

This translation was published first as a part of a PDF publication on 25 January 2020
on academia.edu website.

DOI of the version of the paper on academia.edu:
10.5281/zenodo.3627728.

This paper is the translation of the first chapter of the doctoral dissertation:

Wojciech Kosek, Pierwotny ryt Paschy w świetle schematu literackiego Księgi Wyjścia 1-18,

[The original rite of the Passover in the light of the literary scheme of the Book of Exodus 1-18],

Kraków 2008

See also on academia.edu:

Abstract.

The present paper shows subsequent methodological steps to discover the division of the Book of Exodus into basic literary units according to the thought of its final writer-redactor, the one who arranged the text under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God.

In the first step, one ought to make a list of the more essential means of dividing this book, which occurred from the very beginning to our times. It concerns, of course, the version in the Hebrew language, and also its translations into different languages, including the Greek Septuagint and Latin Vulgate. One must take into account also the contribution of the contemporary biblicists done through their translations and scientific discussions and analyses resulting in books or articles in specialized magazines.

The comparative material collected in this way will answer the question about the criterion for the division of the text: is there visible an original logic in the contemporary editions of the Bible according to which the last editor-writer finally shaped this holy text? What is this original logic? Can this be discovered with scientific credibility?

The second step of the methodological looking for the original division of the Book of Exodus will be a through-out reading of the Hebrew text.

For providing the fulfillment of the requirement to read the text profoundly, one will involve the principle of theocentrism as the essential criterion for this task. Namely, to understand the sacred text, one should look especially for those places where God of Israel – יְהוָה – appears as the subject (dynamic center) of acts and simultaneously the grammatical subject of the biblical sentence.

As a result of such reading, one will discover the six-element literary structure of Ex 1-18 as the first main part of the Book of Exodus; its second part – Ex 19-40 – will not be analyzed in the present publication.

1.2.2. Editorial titles dividing the text Ex 1-18 in contemporary editions of Holy Scripture and modern commentaries.

The following different examples of the division of the same text illustrate, on the one hand, the scale of the difficulty in the task to make the right division and, on the other hand, the enormity of work that the biblical scholars continually do, wishing to know indeed what God has given us. This summary, however, has a third purpose, also. It allows us to discover the criteria used by individual authors of divisions. This purpose is essential for further analysis of this doctoral dissertation.

The review will begin with contemporary Polish editions of the Book of Exodus as the closest to the author of this dissertation.

1.2.2.1. Polish editions of the Book of Exodus.

The Book of Exodus according to Biblia Wujka [25] in the elaboration of S. Styś [26]:

Part I 1:1-18:27FROM EGYPT TO SINAI
I   1:1-12:36   Until Leaving Egypt
  1:1-22   Israelites in Egypt [27]
  2:1-7:13   Moses and His Mission [28]
  7:14-12:36   Egyptian Plagues [29]
II   12:37-15:21   Exit from Egypt [30]
III   15:22-18:27   From the Red Sea to Sinai [31]
Part II 19:1-40:38IN SINAI. FIRST LEGISLATION

The Book of Exodus according to Biblia Wujka in the elaboration of J. Frankowski [32]:

Part I1:1-18:27DELIVERANCE FROM EGYPTIAN CAPTIVITY
  1:1-2:22   see particular sub-parts in the footnote [33]
  2:23-25   God Mentions the Covenant with Abraham.
  3:1-4:31   The Revelation of God to Moses [34]
  5:1-6:1

  The First Moses’ Encounter with the Pharaohs

  Deterioration of the Situation of Israelite

  6:2-13   The Second Description of the Revelation of God and Vocation of Moses
     6:14-30 … 7:13   see particular sub-parts in the footnote [35]
  7:14-10:29   Egyptian Plagues
  11:1-10   The Announcement of the Last Plague
  12:1-20   The Passover Night. Lamb and Unleavened Bread
  12:21-30   Death of Firstborns
  12:31-51   The exit
  13:1-10   Rules Concerning the Ordination of Passover in the Promised Land
  13:11-16   The Law about the Firstborns
  13:17-22   Israel’s Way Out Of Egypt
  14:1-31   Pursuit; Passage Through the Red Sea
  15:1-21   The Song of the Saved…
  15:22- 18:27   Near the Waters of Mara… [36]
Part II19:1-40:38AT SINAI. COVENANT AND LAW

The Book of Exodus in the elaboration of S. Łach [37] from 1964:

Part I1:1-13:16ISRAEL IN EGYPT
  1:1-7:13   see particular sub-parts in the footnote [38]
  7:14-10:29   Egyptian Plagues
  11:1-13:16   The Passover Night and the Exodus from Egypt
Part II13:17-18:27THE JOURNEY FROM EGYPT TO SINAI
Part III19:1-31:18MAKING THE COVENANT ON SINAI
Part IV32:1-40:38THE APOSTASY OF ISRAEL AND THE RENEWAL OF THE COVENANT

The Book of Exodus in the elaboration of S. Łach [39] from 1996:

Part I1:1-18:27THE RELEASE OF THE ISRAELITES FROM EGYPT
  I   1:1-15:21   Israel in Egypt
  1:1-7:13   see particular sub-parts in the footnote [40]
  7:14-10:29   Egyptian Plagues
  11:1-13:16   The Passover Night and the Exodus from Egypt
  13:17-14:31   The Miraculous Passage Through the sea
  15:1-22   A Song of Thanks
  II   15:22-18:27   The way from Egypt to Sinai
Part II19:1-40:38MAKING THE COVENANT ON SINAI. THE FIRST LAWS

The Book of Exodus in Biblia Poznańska [41]:

1:1-7:13SUB-PART without editorial title
  1:1-22   Oppression of the Israelites in Egypt
  2:1-15   Moses’ Youth
  2:16-22   Moses in Midian
  2:23-3:22   Vocation of Moses
  4:1-17   Preparing Moses for the Mission
  4:18-31   Moses Returns to Egypt
  5:1-6:1   The First Meeting with the Pharaoh
  6:2-13   Account [42] of the Revelation of the Name of Yahweh, Parallel to That of Exodus 3-4
  6:14-27   Genealogy of Moses and Aaron
  6:28-7:13   Aaron as the Translator of Moses
7:14-11:10EGYPTIAN PLAGUES
12:1-36PASSOVER
  12:1-14   The First Commands
  12:15-20   Feast of Unleavened Bread
  12:21-36   Death of Firstborns
12:37-15:21EXIT FROM EGYPT
  12:37-42   sub-part without editorial title
  12:43-51   Participation of Strangers in the Passover Festival
  13:1-2   The Commandment to Consecrate the Firstborns to God [43]
  13:3-16   Ritual Instructions
  13:17-31   Crossing the Sea
  15:1-21   A Song of Gratitude
15:22-18:27A MARCH FROM THE SEA TO THE SINAI MOUNTAIN
19:1-40:38MAKING THE COVENANT WITH GOD… [44]
1.2.2.2. Translations not into Polish.

An example of the Bible in German: Die Heilige Schrift des Alten Bundes [45]:

Part I1:1-15:21Die Befreiung aus Ägypten
  1:1-22  1. Israel in Ägypten [46]
  2:1-7:7  2. Jugend und Berufung des Mose [47]
  7:8-13:16  3. Die Ägyptischen Plagen. Das Pascha [48]
  13:17-15:21  4. Der Durchzug durch das Schilfmeer [49]
Part II15:22-18:27Die Wüstenwanderung [50]
Part III19:1-40:38Der Bund am Sinai [51]

A second example of the Bible in German: Das Alte Testament [52]:

Part I1:1-11:10ISRAEL IN ÄGYPTEN [53]
Part II12:1-18:27DER AUSZUG AUS ÄGYPTEN [54]
Part III19:1-40:38AM SINAI

An example of the Bible in American language: The New American Bible [55]:

Part I1:1-12:36The Israelites in Egypt [56]
Part II12:37-18:27The Exodus from Egypt and the Journey to Sinai [57]
Part III19:1-24:18The Covenant at Mount Sinai
Part IV25:1-40:38The Dwelling and Its Furnishing

An example of the Bible in English: The Jerusalem Bible [58]:

Part I1:1-15:21 THE LIBERATION FROM EGYPT
  A   1:1-12:36  ISRAEL IN EGYPT [59]
  B   2:1-7:7   EARLY LIFE AND CALL OF MOSES
    2:1-10     The Birth of Moses
    2:11-22     Moses Escapes to Midian
    2:23-7:7     The Call of Moses [60]
C   7:8-13:16  THE PLAGUES OF EGYPT – THE PASSOVER [61]
D   13:17-15:21  THE CROSSING OF THE SEA OF REEDS [62]
Part II15:22-18:27 ISRAEL IN THE DESERT [63]
Part III19:1-24 THE COVENANT AT SINAI
Part IV25:1-31:18

INSTRUCTIONS ON THE BUILDING OF THE SANCTUARY AND ON ITS MINISTERS

Part V32:1-34:35 ISRAEL’S APOSTASY. THE COVENANT RENEWED
Part VI35:1-40:38 THE FURNISHING AND BUILDING OF THE SANCTUARY

An example of the Bible in French: La Bible. Traduction œcuménique de la Bible [64]:

1:1-15:21DIEU FAIT SORTIR ISRAËL DU PAYS D’ ÉGYPTE [65]
15:22-18:27 LA MARCHE DES ISRAÉLITES DANS LE DÉSERT [66]
19:1-24:18 DIEU FAIT ALLIANCE AVEC ISRAËL
25:1-31:18 LE PLAN DU SANCTUAIRE
32:1-34:35 LE VEAU D’OR
35:1-40:38 LA CONSTRUCTION DU SANCTUAIRE

An example of the Bible in Russian: БИБЛИЯ [67]

1:1-15:21I. ИЗБАВЛЕНИЕ ОТ ЕГИПТА
  1:1-22  A. ВВЕДЕНИЕ [68]
  2:1-4:31  Б. Моисей – избавител [69]
  5:1-12:36  В. Избавление Божие [70]
  12:37-15:21  Г. Начало исхода в пасхальную ночь [71]
15:22-18:27II. В ПУСТЫНЕ, НА ПУТИ К СИНАЮ [72]
19:1-24:18III. ЗАВЕТ И ЗАКОН
25:1-40:38IV. СКИНИЯ В ПУСТЫНЕ
1.2.2.3. Comments not in Polish.

B. S. Childs [73] made the division, which is very important for the research of this dissertation.

The division by Childs:

1:1-15:21SUB-PART without title
  1:1-7  Introductory
  1:8-2:10  Israel’s Persecution and the Birth of Moses
  2:11-15  Moses Slays an Egyptian and Flees to Midian
  3:1-4:17  The Call of Moses
  4:18-6:1  The Return to Egypt
  6:2-7:7  The Renewed Call of Moses
  7:8-11:10  The Plagues of Egypt
  12:1-13:16  Passover and Exodus
  13:17-14:31  The Deliverance at the Sea
  15:1-21  The Song of the Sea
 15:22-18:27INTRODUCTION TO THE WILDERNESS WANDERINGS TRADITIONS
  15:22-27  The Waters of Marah
  16:1-36  Manna and Quails
  17:1-7  Water at Massah and Meribah
  17:8-16  War with the Amalekites
  18:1-27  The Visit of Jethro
19:1-40:38INTRODUCTION TO THE SINAI TRADITIONS

  19:1-25;

  20:18-21

  The Theophany at Sinai
  20:1-17  The Decalogue
  20:22-23:33  Statutes and Ordinances of the Covenant
  24:1-18  The Sealing of the Covenant
  25:1-31:18  Directions for the Tabernacle and its Service
  32:1-35  The Golden Calf
  33:1-23  God’s Presence Endangered
  34:1-35  The Renewal of the Covenant
  35:1-40:38  Tabernacle Instructions Executed

R. J. Clifford [74] made the following division:

Part I1:1-15:21HEBREWS LIBERATED FROM THE SLAVERY OF THE PHARAOH IN EGYPT
A 1:1-2:2 Danger [75]
B 2:23-6:1 God Calls Moses. The First Narrative
C 6:2-7:7 God Calls Moses. The Second Narrative [76]
D 7:8-13:16 Ten Plagues [77]
E 13:17-15:21 Destruction of Egyptian Troops and Miriam’s Thanksgiving
F 15:22-18:27 Wandering to Sinai and Canaan after the Destruction of the Egyptians [78]
Part II19:1-40:38ISRAEL AT THE FOOT OF SINAI
A 19:1-24:18 The Solemn Covenant-Making
B 25:1-31:18 God’s Command to Build and Maintain the Tabernacle
C 32:1-34:35 Apostasy and Renewal of the Covenant
D 35:1-40:38 The Building of the Tabernacle and the Descent of the Glory of God

J. F. Craghan divided into main parts according to the criterion of geographical aspect [79] and into sub-parts according to an aspect of dramatic development of events, [80] which, however, one should clarify as the criterion of the history in which the central figure is the people of God [81].

Division according to J. F. Craghan:

Part I1:1-13:16Israel in Egypt [82]
Part II13:17-18:27Israel in the Desert [83]
Part III19:1-40:38Israel at Sinai [84]

A. Spreafico [85] divided it according to the developing theme criterion:

Part I1:1-15:21ISRAEL IN EGYPT
  1.  1:1-7  From Genesis to Exodus
  2.  1:8-22  Israel’s Bondage
  3.  2:1-7:7  Moses the Liberator
  4.  7:8-10:29  Ten Miracles
  5.  11:1-13:16  Firstborns and Passover
  6.  13:17-15:21  Exodus from Egypt
Part II15:22-18:27ISRAEL IN THE DESERT: MURMURING
Part III19:1-40:38THE COVENANT [86]
1.2.2.4. Conclusions.

1. In each of the above editions, biblical scholars divided the Book of Exodus at the beginning of chapter 19: with verse 18:27 ends the description of Israel’s exit from Egypt and their journey to Mount Sinai, and with verse 19:1 begins the description of Israel’s stay at the foot of Mount Sinai, the conclusion of God’s covenant with Israel, the realization of the covenant regulations. It should be assumed [87] that in terms of the described events (narrative criterion) and the place of action (geographical criterion), there is the following division:

In addition, one should mention here the unique role that some biblical scholars [88], focused on studying the history of tradition, give to Ex 1-15: they believe that this text contains four fundamental themes-events: the vocation of Moses, the series of plagues, the celebration of the Passover, the rescue in the crossing of the Red Sea.

2. It is not easy to divide these two parts into smaller literary units – the biblical scholars differ here. Nevertheless, there is a high degree of consensus on the separation of the following part:

15:22-18:27: From the Red Sea to Sinai / Road from Egypt to Sinai / Walk from the Sea to the Mountains of Sinai / Die Wüstenwanderung / Israel in the Desert: Murmurs / Israel in the Desert / la marche des Israélites dans le désert [89].

3. The problem is to define verse that begins the description of the exit from Egypt:

4. Biblical scholars also differ in defining the boundaries of the Passover description:

7:8-13:16Die Heilige Schrift des Alten Bundes (joins the description of the plagues and the Passover)
11:1-13:16S. Łach (The Passover night and the exodus from Egypt)
11:1-13:16R. J. Clifford (Tenth plague: the death of firstborn Egyptian children, and accompanying rituals)
11:1-13:16A. Spreafico (Firstborns and Passover)

12:1-21;

12:43-13:16

S. Styś (12:1-21: The first law about the Passover celebration;

12:43-13:16: The group of ceremonial laws)

12:1-20J. Frankowski (The Passover night. The lamb and the unleavened bread)
12:1-36Biblia Poznańska (Passover: 1-14: First commands; 15-20: Festival of Unleavened Feast; 21-36: Death of the firstborns)
12:1-13:16Das Alte Testament (Das Pascha); J. Scharbert [93](Das Pascha): H. C. Propp [94] (‘And You will observe this day as an eternal rule”): B. S. Childs (Passover and Exodus)

12:1-20.

21-28.43-51

The New American Bible (12:1-20: The Passover Ritual Prescribed; 12:21-28: Promulgation of the Passover; 12:43-51: Passover Regulations)
12:1-13:22G. Ravasi [95]

12:1-14.

21-28.43-51

The Jerusalem Bible (12:1-14: The Passover; 12:21-28: Injunctions relating to the Passover; 12:43-51: Ordinances for the Passover;)

12:1-14.

21-28.43-51

La Bible (12:1-14: La fête de la Pâque; 12:21-28: Préparation du repas de la Pâque; 12:43-51: Règle pour célébrer la Pâque)

12:1-28;

12:43-13:2:

БИБЛИЯ

(12:1-28: Установление Пасхи; 12:43-13:2: Устав Пасхи)

12:1-28.42-51J. F. Craghan [96]

5. Biblical scholars also differ in determining the boundaries of the plague description:

7:1-11:10Das Alte Testament: J. Scharbert [97]
7:8-10:29A. Spreafico
7:8-11:10J. F. Craghan (7:8-13: Introduction; 7:14-11:10: The Plagues)
7:8-11:10The Jerusalem Bible (7:8-13: The Staff Turned into a Serpent; 7:14-25: The First Plague; … 10:21-29: The Ninth Plague; 11:1-10: Moses Proclaims the Death of the First-born); Propp [98] (‘But Pharaoh’s heart was strong: he did not release Israel’s Sons”)
7:8-12:28J. L. McKenzie [99]
7:8-12:36БИБЛИЯ
7:8-13:16Die Heilige Schrift des Alten Bundes (It combines a description of plagues and Passover)
7:8-13:16R. J. Clifford (7:8-13: Introduction; 7:14-8:19: I Triplet; 8:20-9:12: II Triplet; 9:13-10:29: III Triplet; 11:1-13:16: Tenth Plague: the Death of Firstborn Egyptian Children, and Accompanying Rituals)
7:14-12:36

S. Styś (consecutive plagues: 7:14-25 … 10:21-29; then:

11:10: The Announcement of the Tenth Plague;

12:1-21: The First Law on the Passover Celebration; 12:29-36: The Tenth Plague)

7:14-12:30J. Frankowski (7:14-10:29: Egyptian Plagues; 11:1-10: The Announcement of the Last Plague; 12:1-20: The Passover Night. The Lamb and the Unleavened Bread; 12:21-30: Death of the Firstborns)
7:14-10:29S. Łach (both editions)
7:14-11:10Biblia Poznańska; The New American Bible; G. Ravasi [100]
7:14-10:29; 12:29-42La Bible (7:14-25: Premiere fléau…10:21-29: Neuvième fléau; 12:29-42: Dixième fléau)

B. Lemmelijn [101] undertook a detailed analysis of this literary problem and its various solutions among biblical scholars. At the outset, she points out that the reader of the description of plagues almost immediately perceives that the beginning and ending point of the narrative is ‘fluent’ – difficult to grasp. That is why the differences in opinions among scholars are not surprising.

The author points to two main views about the beginning of the narrative: Ex 7:8 [102] (in this case, Ex 7:8-13 is considered an essential introduction to the part of the plagues’ description) or Ex 7:14 [103].

She also shows other views, but with fewer supporters: Ex 6:28; Ex 7:1, or a less clearly defined point within Ex 7-11 or 5-11 [104].

In turn, in the author’s opinion, the issue of the end of the narrative is even more complicated. The two main views here are Ex 11:10 [105] and Ex 10:27 [106] (or 10:29 [107]). However, some exegetes argue in favor of ending the narrative of the plagues in Ex 12 because verses 29-32 and 35-36 describe the death of the firstborns, announced in Ex 11 [108]. Still, others move the same end until Ex 13:16 [109]. These differences of opinions result from the fact that Ex 11 contains both the statements summarizing the narrative of the plagues and announcing the most severe plague – the death of the firstborns, described in Ex 12.

6. There are also significant differences in the description of the call of Moses:

(a) in the Book of Exodus, according to most biblical scholars, there are two descriptions regarding the same event, while according to others, there are described subsequent events that are different from each other:

It is worth noting, following J. Lust [122], that the indicated divergence of opinions integrally connects itself with the source hypothesis: one commonly assumes that Ex 6:2-7:13 comes from a Priestly source, while 6:2-5 seems to focus on the revelation of the name יהוה  [123], similarly as the description of Ex 3:1-4:17 assigned to the Yahwistic source (or edition/redaction).

(b) the boundaries of each of the two descriptions (or events) are defined differently:

the beginning of the descriptionthe end of the description
first descriptionfrom 2:23 [124] or 3:1 [125]up to 4:31 [126]
second descriptionfrom 6:2 [127]up to 6:13 [128] or 7:7 [129] or 7:13 [130]